Wouldn't Go Back, but Wouldn't Trade My Experience for Anything Past Review

By (Birmingham-Southern College) - abroad from 09/17/2017 to 12/08/2017 with

University of Birmingham: Birmingham - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained a work ethic. I gained a sense of how to assert myself against hard-headed powers to get basic information that I needed. On a positive note, I gained some life-long friends as well. Overall, I would say the friendships and travel experiences made it worthwhile, but the biggest drawback was the university itself.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The university was poorly advertised and did not fit my needs as a student or in my program of study. I had many complications with the administration and the resources provided, and no one seemed to care or be able to reply to a simple email. None of the operating procedures of the college were explained to be beforehand, and I suffered academically because of that. A lot of times, I felt like I was not being passed on information that every other student in the department was, because the email server was messed up with my student account and IT services could not fix it.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The College of Arts and Law, specifically the music school, is not organized well whatsoever. Normal students in a 3-year course of study will do fine, but in a semester, I would not recommend studying here. The office staff were not helpful at all, almost seeming to be less helpful specifically because I was a confused American. I had staff contacts at UoB I was able to confide this in, but still did not feel valued by the university in any way.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

By far the best part of the university itself. Chamberlain Hall was clean, my flatmates were fantastic, and the rooms were extremely nice, well-kept, and modern. The major complaint I have is the housing was just so far away from campus; I had to walk a mile to campus and a mile back every day. My knees and shins became injured due to this, but that was a minor inconvenience considering the quality of the room.

* Food:

I didn't care much for English/Welsh cuisine, but the food provided was very good quality.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt very integrated. I made a lot of close friends, was able to explore the city, and my flatmates even threw me a huge going away party and invited pretty much everyone I'd met over the semester to it.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I registered with the NHS, but never used it. The college did not provide any support with what forms I needed to fill out as an international student.

* Safety:

I felt safe in Birmingham. I never stayed out too late unless I was with a group of friends.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No

I had a horrible time with the UoB Music department. I felt like my needs as an international student were not fulfilled: there was deep miscommunication, sometimes no communication whatsoever. It would often take be two or three emails just to receive a single email back from a staff member after my initial email. I felt there was no sense of organization, the staff seemed to not care about exchange students and only cared to focus on their English student body, and did not provide adequate support.


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? around $125-175
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Use the meal plan! It is easy to stretch the meal plan out over the week.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Exchange

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Housing
  • Socialization
* What could be improved?
  • Communication
  • Respect
  • Advertising program more accurately and more truthfully
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish that I had knew anything about what I was getting into. The fact that the study abroad staff barely responded to initial emails should have been a red flag from the very start. I went into the program thinking I had an understanding of the university based on what their website said, but it was sadly untrue. The staff were almost cold and uninviting, and I didn't feel like I was treated like other students. There was one specific time when I wasn't told about a class meeting time by the music office (as I also never received my timetable, my classes never showed up on the website) and I ended up missing that class meeting the whole year because it was also never mentioned in the part of the class that I was attending. All in all, the university has a lot to work on. I did not find this to be an academically valuable experience.